Defunct Signet Solar files bankruptcy
Signet Solar, a one-time maker of thin-film solar panels, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, more than two years after it shut down.
The company, with its U.S. base in Atherton, has $30 million in assets and $9.8 million in debts according to a bankruptcy notice. The company’s largest creditor is the Goel Family Partnership, to which it owes $2 million.
Signet made amorphous silicon panels using SunFab equipment produced by Applied Materials. Interest in amorphous silicon panels spiked back around 2005 when a shortage of polysilicon – the main energy converting ingredient of traditional crystalline solar panels – sent the solar industry scrambling for alternatives. Amorphous silicon panels use a non-crystalline type of silicon.
But they were never as efficient as crystalline panels and they always cost more than other types of thin-film panels. With plummeting prices of crystalline and other types of solar panels in the last several years, amorphous panels have not been able to compete. According to a new report by Berkeley National Laboratory, the installed price of crystalline solar panels (for solar systems between 10 and 100 kilowatts) fell 32.5 percent from 2007 to 2011. What’s more, traditional crystalline panels – which are far more efficient than thin film panels, now cost less for systems larger than 10 kilowatts than the larger, less efficient, thin-film panels.
So, no one should be surprised by Signet’s demise.
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